Indonesia: Journalists face harassment and intimidation while reporting

Three journalists in Maluku and Jakarta were intimidated, harassed, and prevented from reporting in two separate incidents on July 9 and 14, amid a rising number of violations against media workers in Indonesia. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate, the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) Indonesia, condemn the intimidation against the journalists and urge the authorities to ensure press freedom is protected.

Journalists from the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) Indonesia, Jakarta chapter, protest to commemorate World Press Freedom Day 2019. Credit: Afwan Purwanto / AJI Jakarta

On July 9, journalist Sofyan Muhammadiyah was covering student demonstrations against the Maluku Governor, Murad Ismail, in Namlea, Maluku when he was harassed by the Governor’s aide, I Ketut Wardana.

Muhammadiyah, a reporter for Molluca TV, had recorded Ismail threatening student protestors on his mobile phone. Despite Muhammadiyah stating he was a journalist, Wardana grabbed his phone and deleted his video coverage.

In a separate incident in South Jakarta on July 14, two journalists associated with CNNIndonesia.com and 20Detik respectively were intimidated when covering the fatal shooting of police officer Brigadier J near the residence of the National Police Internal Affairs Division’s Chief Inspector General, Ferdy Sambo.

As the journalists interviewed a janitor in a separate complex near Sambo’s house, three unidentified men approached the journalists and checked their bags, forcibly removing their mobile phones, and deleting all footage of the interview. According to AJI, the men forbade the journalists from reporting anywhere in the vicinity of the residence.

The fatal shooting of Brigadier J on July 8 has garnered public attention since there were various ‘irregularities’ in the case, including a long delay between the time of the incident and the public announcement.

The IFJ has documented several recent incidents of harassment against journalists in Indonesia, including the ongoing threats and intimidation against members of student press organisation LPM Lintas after publishing an investigative story on sexual harassment at the State Institute for Islamic Studies (IAIN) Ambon. On July 7, a female journalist was sexually assaulted by a football supporter while covering a match in Yogyakarta.

AJI said: “AJI condemns the incidents against journalists while they were simply doing their jobs. Based on the Press Law, journalists are protected to gather information. AJI demands every party to ensure the safety of journalists to obtain information from the scene.”

The IFJ said: “Incidents of harassment and intimidation against journalists working in the field present an alarming trend for Indonesia’s media. Journalists must be able to report safely and securely, without fear of harassment or recrimination. The IFJ condemns the intimidation of Indonesian journalists from Molluca TV, CNNIndonesia.com and 20Detik and calls for stronger measures to safeguard press freedom.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on ifj@ifj-asia.org

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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